The old proverb says that you can choose your friends but not your family.
While this is true, in today’s society, we can make an important addition to that statement. You can choose your friends, but not your family or your coworkers.
And, as is the case in most families, there are those who you like, and those you don’t. You might have noticed that there are some people around the office that are not crazy about you, either. Unfortunately, you are stuck working with them and you have to find a way to work together and work well. So now what?
Here are some tips on how to get along with coworkers who dislike you.
The solutions to many (if not all) problems in the world begin by accepting them. Although it feels good to be liked, it’s likely that some people just don’t like you.
That’s ok. It’s not the end of the world. The truth is that you don’t have to be best buddies with a person to be able to work with them.
Once you are in a situation where you have to work with someone who doesn’t like you, there are a few things you can do.
Take a Deep Breath
When you find out that someone doesn’t like you, it’s easy to get carried away and do one of two things.
You might want to find out why they don’t like you, and what their problem is. Or, you might want to exaggerate and list all the negative characteristics they have.
Surely you know that this isn’t productive at all, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it. And, frankly, it doesn’t matter why they don’t like you. It’s much more important to find a way of coping.
Focus On the Positive
No matter how hard it may seem, especially if the dislike is mutual, you have to figure out positive things about that person, and how can they best contribute to the work you will be doing together.
Try to focus on those things, however small they might seem, and use them in your work.
This will be difficult at first, but you can see this as a learning opportunity. If your colleague’s ideas annoy you, you can try to find out how they got the idea, and what their process is, thus expanding your views and gaining a new perspective on things.
A saying often repeated by some people is that you can learn something from everybody. Best case scenario – you can learn a new skill. Worst case scenario – you will learn how not to do things.
You can also think about what the colleague can bring to the project. You have to start working together eventually, and that will be easier if you know exactly why you were put together.
A simple example is a coworker who works very slowly, getting relatively little done. This would probably gets on the nerves of other coworkers.
However, whatever they do is clearly documented and leaves almost no paperwork to be done by others.
Have Your Goal in Mind
Of course, it is not always easy to simply ignore the one you should be collaborating with, so having a clear, set goal will come in handy.
You can focus on your task, and they can focus on theirs. Since they already don’t like you, there won’t be much talking, and this can be seen as an added benefit.
There is data that shows that the biggest distraction in some offices is having coworkers around and chatting with them.
Sometimes you want to chat, but other times the chatting is annoying and you wish you could focus on your work, but you don’t want to seem impolite.
Well, now that issue is solved.
This applies to all relationships while at work.
Of course, you can have friends at your workplace and still be professional, but when that is not the case, professionalism should never go out the window.
Professional communication, with clearly communicated ideas can lead to a great working relationship. Even if you think that some of their work is not up to par, instead of just criticizing it, point out what you think can be fixed, and offer a solution.
However, when offering a solution, never go straight to your idea in the manner of “Your is bad, mine is good”. Offer an improvement to their idea.
They will appreciate you much more that way.
Gain Their Appreciation
There are thousands of ways to gain someone’s appreciation, aside from the one already mentioned. A few of them are:
Be Honest and Work Hard
This seems like a universal rule, but somehow people tend to forget it.
Working hard towards the goal is not only professional, but when your coworkers see that you really are invested in what you do, they will notice it, whether they like you or not.
Give Credit Where Credit is Due
When the coworker who doesn’t like you does something good, be sure to mention it. Don’t settle for the simple “Good job.” or “Nice work.”
Take a moment to emphasize what you really think is good and point out a few details. But don’t do this just so they will like you.
Do it because you really think their work is good, and you believe in what you say. If you give credit to something that you don’t think is good, they will probably notice and will like you even less.
Offer to Help
If you are done with your part of a specific project, invest a bit of time and offer to help your coworker.
Be careful to do this in a tasteful manner, so that it doesn’t seem like you are trying to tell them that they are doing a bad job.
When offering help, ask what they would want help with. “Let me help you with that,” is something you say to a child when the child struggles to open a bottle, not to a coworker.
When the Time is Right, Ask
If you started working together and the process isn’t terrible, you can think about facing the problem itself.
If you are ever alone with the colleague who doesn’t like you, just say it.
Something along the lines of, “I’ve noticed some tension between the two of us. Is something I’m doing bothering you?” can go a long way.
The reason may be something trivial that you are doing without even being aware of it, and that you wouldn’t mind changing at all.
Trying some of these things may make the workday more bearable, but if things go the right way, there’s always the possibility that things will turn around and you will get a coworker who appreciates you and the work that you do.